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Free expert hands-on help for SMMEs

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Free expert hands-on help for SMMEs

by BuaNews Online
25 Aug 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

A Dutch organisation is offering to help Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa, by providing the free services of retired managers willing to transfer their knowledge and experience to local entrepreneurs.

PUM Netherlands Senior Experts is an organisation funded by the Dutch government and Dutch employers' organisation VNO-NCW to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in some 80 countries worldwide, reports

PUM receives requests for assistance in every stage of the managerial process, from administration to finance, automation, production, marketing, technique and a wide variety of specialist fields.

It has assigned experts to advise firms in just about every sector of industry, including construction, textile, metal and wood processing, chemicals and agriculture.

"This organisation has about 4 000 retired ex-managers working unpaid for them, willing to transfer their knowledge and experience to smaller companies in development countries," said senior PUM expert Jan van der Vleuten.

According to PUM, their experts do not receive a salary, but are driven by enthusiasm and a desire to make a contribution and meet the challenge of improving the lives of people in far-off countries.

Mr van der Vleuten further explained that practical, on-site help would be given to those companies that displayed potential, but lacked business experience and also did not have enough capital to hire independent external advisors.

"It may also be that they want to export their products and need good advice on European product rules and regulations," he added.

Visits by experts usually last between 10 to 15 working days, after which the PUM experts give entrepreneurs suggestions on what improvements they can make to their businesses.

Most often, follow-up visits are necessary, during which the PUM expert returns to evaluate how plans have been proceeding.

Sometimes plans are amended, and at other times new suggestions are made instead.

"PUM promotes long-standing relationships and frequent contacts between experts and clients," the organisation says.

"Many PUM senior experts continue to advise their clients after their return to the Netherlands."

PUM South Africa representative Laura van der Merwe said applicants for assistance would have to be small to medium-sized firms operating for at least two years, have between 10 and 1 000 employees, and have a turnover not exceeding R500 million per year.

In addition, the participating client must agree to pay for the expert's accommodation and food expenses during the duration of the project, as well as for transport to and from the business premises.
PUM has offered advice in a wide variety of fields, including agriculture, transportation, hospitality and tourism, education and training, mining and manufacturing, business development and related services, waste removal and corporate cleaning, and the sale and distribution of medical devices.

Local small and medium sized enterprises that want more information on the PUM initiative, and to find out whether they can qualify for assistance from the organisation, can contact PUM South Africa representative Ms van der Merwe on (011) 674 2854 or 083 427 5151. - BuaNews

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